LAHORE, July 31 — Seven Islamist extremists were killed in a shootout in Pakistan’s wealthy Punjab province as police raided the group suspected of launching attacks on security posts, officials said today.
Gunfire erupted between between police and 10 suspected militants early this morning in a house where the group was holed up.
Police said the seven dead were killed by bullets from their own men.
“When the firing stopped, seven terrorists were found dead by the firing of their own accomplices and the remaining escaped in the darkness of the night,” a police statement said.
The shootout occurred in Pakistan’s central Punjab province about 56 kilometres (35 miles) west of Lahore.
Police said the Islamists belonged to the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
They were accused of planning attacks on security posts and law enforcement agencies in Punjab.
Rights activists have blamed Pakistani police for staging raids to kill suspects they fear could be freed if tried in a court.
Pakistan launched a countrywide campaign against militancy called the National Action Plan in 2015 after a deadly Taliban attack on a Peshawar school killed more than 150 people, mostly children.
The Sunni LeJ group has claimed responsibility for some of the most brazen attacks on Shiahs in Pakistan’s recent history, including a January 2013 bombing in Quetta that killed over one hundred members of the Shiah Hazara minority group.
Sectarian violence — in particular that carried out by Sunni militants against Shiahs, who make up roughly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population of 200 million — has claimed thousands of lives in the country over the past decade. — AFP